Book Review by Dr. Larry Chapp in Catholic World Report. A Review of David C. Schindler’s New Book: “The Politics of the Real: the Church Between Liberalism and Integralism.”
Linked below is the review. My next blog post after this one will be a defense of Adrienne von Speyr. And after that a blog on universalism, since everybody seems hot to trot on that topic.
But for now … in addition to the review linked below I offer the following additional observations:
Schindler’s text is one of the most important to come along on this topic in a very long time. It is truly magisterial and should be a must read for anyone who wants to join the discussion of what the Church’s relationship should be to modern Liberalism. Schindler agrees with Pierre Manent’s thesis (as articulated in his small, but dense work, “An Intellecutal History of Liberalism”) that the modern political project was born as a direct reaction against Catholicism and that its subsequent unfolding proves this to be true. Catholicism and Liberalism are not merely in “tension” but are in reality polar opposites and completely incompatible with one another. Schindler argues that such putatively “Liberal values” like freedom of speech and conscience, equality under the law, and freedom of religion, are in reality more expansively protected by Catholic teaching than what Liberalism can provide. Schindler shows clearly that the so-called “freedom” that Liberalism creates is no such thing, and in all actuality is the opposite of any true freedom which is rooted in an orientation to an objective order of human goods – – an objective order which Liberalism denies and thus undermines as it seeks to ground all human interactions on a hyper-minimalist account of the good. Therefore, its account of freedom is grounded in nothing more than a stipulative proceduralism devoid of any orientation to the true, which is to say, the real. And in denying to the Church any purchase on public warrant, on the realm of the “real,” it denies the right of the Church to be most precisely what it is.
Schindler further argues that all governments are inherently confessional, and Liberalism most certainly so, and that we are not therefore really debating whether or not governments should be integralist with regards to some preferred and privilged concept of the good, since all are so. And having a priviliged view of the good which it seeks to enact into coercive law, means that it also embodies a set of ideas concerning anthropology, the nature of history, and moral norms. Therefore, the question of the possibility of a Catholic confessional state naturally arises as a possible alternative integralism to the Liberal one. You can read the review, and then hopefully the whole book, to understand where Schindler’s integralism differs from that of some of the more standard integralists like Waldstein, who is dealt with extensively in the book. In short, Schindler argues for a vision of church and state relations that are rooted in analogical rather than univocal concepts of power.
A great book. You should buy it and read it. You can access the review here.